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Software Testing

Playwright vs. Selenium, Why devs are switching?

Discover in this article the fundamentals and the main differences of Playwright and Selenium

Jorge Duré
May 13, 2024

Automated software testing

In broad terms, software testing refers to empirical and technical investigations that are part of the quality control process. The primary objective is to provide unbiased and impartial information about the quality of the software under test by ensuring that it functions as expected.

Within this context, automated software testing replaces the manual execution of actions and results from verification by testers with scripts or programs that simulate user interactions and automatically verify the results.

These automated testing scripts are written using various programming languages or specific tools for automated testing, and this is where Selenium plays a crucial role.

Why is Selenium so widely used?

Since its inception in 2004, Selenium was a tool intending to improve the shortcomings of the then-de facto standard for software testing, Micro Focus Unified Functional Testing (UFT), formerly known as QuickTest Professional (QTP).

Around 2008, Selenium began to establish itself as a strong competitor to UFT by providing integration with multiple programming languages and operating systems. It became a much more innovative and attractive open-source solution for developers, testers, and companies.

Gradually, Selenium became the industry standard due to several advantages it offered. One of the key highlights was its flexibility for use in various third-party Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) and integration with modern and popular programming languages. Selenium was compatible with different web browsers and operating systems, although it was unsuitable for desktop testing.

Over the years, several tools and languages emerged, intending to improve the software testing process. However, they still need to achieve the popularity of Selenium for various reasons.

The Legacy of Selenium vs. the Innovation of Playwright

In 2020, Microsoft entered the software testing field with an innovative proposal: Microsoft Playwright. Playwright enables developers and testing teams to automate interactions with web applications across multiple browsers, something that Selenium already did quite well.

However, one feature sets Playwright apart: its ability to automate tests on Chromium-based web browsers such as Chrome, Edge, and Brave, as well as other browsers like Safari and Firefox, using a single API.

Automation scripts written with Playwright can be executed on different browsers without additional modifications, simplifying the testing process and reducing maintenance complexity.

Like Selenium, Playwright is an open-source and free tool, allowing users to leverage its automation capabilities in projects without incurring licensing costs, taking advantage of its innovations.

Selenium and Playwrigth are both open-source web automation frameworks, and both fulfill the same functions, although in different ways and with key differences.

Selenium Architecture and History

Architecture: Selenium employs the WebDriver API to facilitate communication between web browsers and browser drivers. This involves translating test cases into JSON format and transmitting them to the browsers, which execute the commands and return an HTTP response.

History: Selenium has maintained continuous operation and development for over 18 years. An enduring open-source project, it provides extensive browser and language support, a vast array of community resources, and a supportive ecosystem.

Playwright Architecture and History

Architecture: Playwright distinguishes itself by utilizing a WebSocket connection instead of relying on the WebDriver API and HTTP. This WebSocket connection remains open throughout the test, transmitting all communications through a single link. This streamlined approach contributes to Playwright's reputation for faster execution speeds.

The playwright is a new addition to the automation landscape. It surpasses Selenium in terms of speed and offers capabilities that Selenium lacks. However, Playwright is an open-source tool supported by Microsoft.

Similarities and Differences

Performance and speed

Playwright is generally faster than Selenium due to its WebSocket connection and auto-waiting capabilities, while Selenium can be slow, especially for complex tests. This makes it a good choice for applications that require fast and reliable performance.

Support for browsers

Selenium supports a wider range of browsers than Playwright, including Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, Opera, and Internet Explorer. Playwright, on the other hand, only supports Chromium, Firefox, and WebKit. However, it is expected to support more browsers in the future.

Programming languages

Selenium supports a wider range of programming languages than Playwright, including Python, Java, C#, Ruby, and JavaScript. Conversely, Playwright only supports TypeScript, JavaScript, Python, .NET, and Java.

Ease of use

Selenium is generally easier to learn and use than Playwright due to its wider community support and more extensive documentation. On the other hand, Playwright is a newer framework still under development, so it may need to be more well-documented or easier to find help. However, the community is multiplying.


Selenium and Playwright both have a wide range of features, but Playwright has some additional features that are not available in Selenium, such as:

Headless testing: Playwright can run tests in headless mode, meaning the browser window is not displayed. This can be useful for testing applications not designed to be used in a headless environment.

Parallel testing: Playwright supports similar testing, meaning multiple tests can be run simultaneously. This can be useful for increasing the speed of testing.

The playwright is a newer framework designed to be faster and more efficient than Selenium. However, Selenium has a larger community and more features.

Should a tester choose Playwright over Selenium?

There’s no easy answer here. As we saw before, Playwright and Selenium are popular web automation frameworks but have different strengths and weaknesses. 

When choosing between Selenium vs. Playwright, it’s important to understand your requirements and research your options before deciding on a winner.

Therefore, when it comes to many questions nowadays, we often find ourselves inclined to give the clichéd response: it depends.